HE SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM…2000 years ago, in a beautiful spring season just like today, Jesus journeyed from the countryside of the Holy Land, up to the Holy City of Jerusalem—one last time. Along the way, He traveled through town after town, teaching what it really meant to follow Him. And what He said was never EVER what folks expected to hear.
“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.” Luke 9:51-56.
We can learn a lot from the curious phrase “he set His face” to go to Jerusalem. This is an Aramaic expression used several times in the Old Testament to signify resolution or determination. Jesus was a man on a mission, not only in spirit, but in physical countenance. Imagine the face of the Only Begotten Son of God displaying physical determination to meet the appointment of His Father, Almighty God. One look at His face probably convinced any and all that He was totally focused on getting to Jerusalem to fulfill His appointment on the cross as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.
A lot needed to be accomplished in a short amount of time. So He had sent messengers ahead of Him, to prepare the way. We can see the perfect synchronicity here of heaven and earth. Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God, is now working in concert with mankind to accomplish a spiritual purpose that would bind them together for all Eternity!
But predictably, there was dissention in the religious community over what the Words of Jesus actually meant. Indeed, James and John were ready to call down fire from heaven and consume those who believed differently.
The Samaritans were aware of what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well. “Believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” And now Jesus stood in front of them, resolutely intent on His apparent goal of being worshipped in Jerusalem. So those in the Samaritan village “did not receive Him”. In other words, they were questioning what He was doing.
The great irony was, in the coming days the Jewish community would wave palm branches and shout “Hosanna” upon His Jerusalem entrance, but then turn on Him and shout “Crucify Him” when it appeared He was not doing the things they expected, either.
Of course, His disciples figured Jesus was intent on teaching others who didn't know Him like they did. But they quickly learned that Jesus always taught His closest followers the hardest lessons first. Jesus sent shock waves into their midst when He "rebuked" the disciples for their lack of mercy, and not the Samaritans, who wouldn't acknowledge Him.
Let’s stop here to ponder the truth that our Christian community today is a lot like the one Jesus encountered on His way to fulfill God Almighty's Divine Appointments. We receive the Words of Jesus as truth but deny Him the right to expand upon them in our timeline to accomplish His Father’s will. Or we’re like the Jews who followed their scripture prophecy to every “jot and tittle” but weren’t able to even see Messiah in their midst.
They didn’t know what was going to happen back then any more than we do today. Sure, we have our eschatology and biblical prophecies and expectations. But that doesn’t make them valid or correct. What we need is what both the Samaritans and the Jews needed. To understand the Words of Jesus as He intended, we need to be in the proper sphere of God’s timeline. We need to be humble and willing to reexamine our beliefs in the light of each new day and generation. And don’t forget that Jesus rebuked his disciples for their lack of mercy, but not the Samaritans who wouldn’t acknowledge Him.
Indeed, if we look at this situation through the perspective of time, we see that Jesus was intent on accomplishing a much bigger task than assuming the role of an earthly kingship in Jerusalem. He had an enemy to defeat once and for all before any of that could be accomplished. But it would not be in the manner anyone thought. He would have to lay down His physical life and walk away from His physical throne---for a time.
Yes, today, we have the awesome vantage point of knowing that Jesus not only laid down His life, but He regained it when He was raised from the dead. And we also know that one day soon, He will return to reign on Earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
As we continue reading the next verses in Luke 9:57-62, 10:1-4, we are confounded and humbled by the Words of Jesus. “As they were walking along the road headed toward Jerusalem, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’”
“He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’”
“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”
“As He commissioned 72 other disciples and sent them by 2’s ahead of Him to every town and place He would go, He continued to instruct them, saying, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.”
Most of us Christians should be staggering right now under the weight of Jesus’ description of TRUE discipleship: accept rejection without responding in anger …let the dead bury the dead… no goodbyes to loved ones…lambs among wolves…no clothes or money… don’t let your guard down.
And there’s still so much more that happened in those final weeks. They were jam-packed full of parables and lessons that only the Son of God Himself could teach. The Good Samaritan ends with Jesus posing a question that still divides religious folks today. 'Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?' The expert in the law replied, 'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him 'Go and do likewise.'" Luke 10:36-37.
Jesus taught us how to pray by giving us the model "Lord's Prayer". But then He insulted the religious folks of the day when He boldly announced, "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love to have the seat of honor in the synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without realizing it.”
Jesus continued to shock and dismay the religious establishment when He said, "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
The gospel of Luke alone records 35-40 parables and teachings from chapter 10-19, with Jesus sending out the 72 disciples, His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, healing 14 people along the way, and all in a matter of days or weeks. It is so VERY obvious that this was one of THE most productive times on this earth in the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!
Yes, today we literally follow in the footsteps of Jesus during His final time on this earth. We know this because we learned in last week's lesson how to pinpoint the beginning of God's New Year, which begins on our 2022 calendar the evening of April 2. https://www.facebook.com/fontanacommunitychurch/posts/4958016664278483
God’s Word tells us in Exodus 12:6 that the sacrifice of the lamb occurred at twilight on the 14th day of the first month. “Twilight” is more accurately translated “between the evenings”. (There is a Hebrew word for twilight, not used here.) “Between the evenings” was understood until 200 BC to designate the hours of 3-5 pm, referred to as the 1st evening with the 2nd evening occurring at sunset.
Deuteronomy 16:1, 6 adds further explanation: "Observe the month of Aviv and celebrate the Passover of the Lord your God, because in the month of Aviv he brought you out of Egypt by night...There you must sacrifice the Passover in the evening, when the sun goes down, on the anniversary of your departure from Egypt."
The death of Jesus between the evenings fulfilled God's appointed deliverance of His chosen people for all time. Paul said it best in Corinthians 5:7: "...For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed." The 14th day of God's first month will begin the evening of April 15 on our 2022 Gregorian calendar.
Jesus set His face to go Jerusalem, and sent messengers ahead to prepare the way. As we are called by God in the same manner to prepare the way of our returning Lord, may we be like God's servant Isaiah who said, "The Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed" Isaiah 50:7
HE SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM…